Nikkei is intriguing, a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine – with robatayaki, sushi, sake, pisco, lucuma and more – now being served in Bree Street.
There’s more than 15 000km between Japan and Peru, and it’ll take you between 31 and 38 hours to fly to Callao, depending on which Japanese airport you depart.
We’ll all agree that’s a long way. Can cuisines really meld over such a geographic and cultural gap? Yes. Yes they can.
Nikkei is a catch-all term for Japanese emigrants or their descendants who are not citizens of Japan; broadly of Japanese origin, or with a Japanese legacy. When it comes to food, however, it is specifically the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian.
And so we have Nikkei, the newest kid on Cape Town’s Bree Street.
Japanese folk emigrated to Peru from 1899 to 1936, to work on cane plantations. It was a hard life, yet the Japanese Peruvian community thrived and had a significant impact on the country.
Japanese Peruvian cuisine is testament to that. The Japanese introduced new ingredients to Peruvian food, such as miso, ginger, soy, wasabi and rice vinegar, and integrated Peruvian ingredients like aji or yellow pepper, Andes potatoes and corn. It brought us tiradito, a Peruvian twist on sashimi.
Nikkei is in the Hacienda, Scala Pasta, Iron Steak and Burger & Lobster stable, so you know you’re in for a treat. The team gutted the old Gate69 and have created a mysterious, dark green space, with influences from the 1920s seen in the lines, panels and lighting. The green, co-owner Paolo Carrara says, represents the Amazon, while the kitchen gives diners a direct view of the hot coals and robatayaki.
One Michelin star chef chef Rikku O’Donnchu consulted on the menu, which is ably executed by group executive chef Justin Barker.
Start your meal with a cocktail at the bar. While tasty, my classic pisco sour was the poor cousin to my friend’s Stars of Machu Picchu, a singing combination of La Diablada Pisco, agave and pink peppercorns. We would have had more, but our table called.
Waitrons dressed in pink kimono-like jackets and black trousers quietly bustle about. Impressively, although the ceiling is high, the floor tiled and the music part of the vibe, the sound is manageable enough to have a conversation.
We’re vegetarian, and were presented with a vegan amuse bouche of edamame with tiger’s milk foam and beetroot on an edible oyster shell. It sets up the palate nicely for what’s to come. Edamame is always a win in my books, here dressed with fermented chilli ketchup and cooling radish and cucumber salad. The crispy citrus tofu with green garlic aioli is delicious. It is very (very) easy to get tofu wrong. Nikkei does not.
But the stand out for us was the truffle maki with black truffle mousse, nori and fresh black truffle. Nikkei sushi differs from the Japanese in the rice. It is less sticky, a longer and almost imperceptibly crunchy grain.
The citrus and kelp cured seabass with yuzu emulsion, chilli, red pepper salsa and ginger dressing, and the salmon teriyaki with sesame and red onion salsa are deliciously palette-pleasing. That’s according to the sophisticated table seated next to us.
Prices are reasonable – R329 for a Peruvian Bento Box; R499 each for a Nikkei Omakase set menu for two. Except maybe the Wagyu rib eye with black truffle and miso for R489. But you can get buttermilk chilli chicken thigh with sweet soy and togarashi for R115.
Nikkei is a tasty and fun new addition to Cape Town’s restaurant offerings, and recommended for a happy evening (or lunch). There are also specials:
Pisco Hour is half price on all pisco cocktails, Monday to Saturday, 4pm ‒ 5.30pm
Sushi & Sake Sundays is a special 25-piece sushi platter for R199 and half price on all sake cocktails – and there is usually a live DJ on the decks, noon to 6pm
Note: Nikkei is not disabled friendly – the entrance from the street, and narrow down to the facilities.
Note 2: there are some vegan options, but not many – four on the Entradas (appetisers), two on the Piqueos (small plates) menus.
Monday to Sunday, noon to 10.30pm
87 Bree Street, Cape Town
021 109 0081
Visit nikkei.co.za or nikkei_za on Instagram.
Written by Lorraine Kearney.
Jarastyle – #Japanese #Peruvian #Cape #Town #Nikkei
Courtesy : https://www.getaway.co.za/food/japanese-peruvian-comes-to-cape-town-at-nikkei/